- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 25, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | Sarah Bowman wasn’t going to let Tennessee lose.

The former standout at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Va., posted the second-fastest 1,500 split in Penn Relays history Friday, making up a 15-meter deficit in the 6,000-meter relay to lift the Volunteers to their second Championship of America victory in as many days. The team’s time - 17:08.34 - broke the world record, set by Australia in 2000, by more than a second.

The senior also anchored Tennessee’s distance medley Thursday, putting the Volunteers’ goal of three titles at Franklin Field in sight. Tennessee will be among the favorites in the women’s 3,200-meter relay Saturday.

“We’ve already kind of mentioned that,” said Bowman, who ran all three events last year, when Tennessee was the runner-up each time. “We came in as underdogs, and that motivated us.”

In the distance medley relay Thursday, Bowman was handed a big lead and had to hold off Georgetown’s Maggie Infeld down the final stretch. That wasn’t the case Friday, when she received the baton nearly four seconds behind and in fourth. She passed runners from Villanova and Washington with two laps to go and moved to Infeld’s hip with about 500 meters left. Bowman gave her a little bump and unleashed a wicked kick for the victory and a 4:10.2 split.

“I have a tendency to get anxious,” said Bowman, who helped Tennessee set an indoor world record in the distance medley relay and won the mile at the NCAA championships in March. “I kind of test the waters to see what I’m doing. I caught her a little too close. When I made up my mind to go, I went.”

What could have been

The United States and Jamaica finally get the matchup that wasn’t in the Beijing Olympics in Saturday’s marquee event: the USA vs. the World 400-meter relays. In Beijing, the American men and women both botched handoffs in the prelims.

“At this point, we’re just going to try to race,” said Lauryn Williams, who finished fourth in the 100 in Beijing after winning a silver medal in 2004. “We’re going to put the 2008 four-by-one behind us. We’re not going to dwell on what went wrong or who to blame.”

The Jamaican men set the world record in the event in Beijing, but that was with Usain Bolt, who is not at the Penn Relays. Still, Saturday’s race won’t diminish the nations’ friendly rivalry, which has come to dominate track and field.

“We don’t have the best team here,” Jamaica’s Asafa Powell said. “But we have four guys who can win that race [Saturday].”

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